In our many journeys around the web, we’ve all hit that digital dead end—Error 404: Page Not Found. Many times, we’re greeted with plain black text on a white background telling us to hit the back button.
It doesn’t have to be that bland. Plenty of websites have built 404 Error Pages that look nice and match the rest of their site’s design. Some have gone above and beyond to create error messages that are interactive, witty, or otherwise memorable.
Looking to create a better user experience for your customers? Consider sprucing up your error message page. Here are 5 great examples we’ve found around the web to help you get inspired.
404: fun or functional?
First, let’s look at why a visitor to your site might get a 404 Error Message. Usually, a Page Not Found error occurs when a URL has been deleted or moved. Customers may arrive at this page by clicking on an old link, either from within your site or on an external page. Sometimes, pages continue to appear on the search engine results page even after it has been deleted or moved. A 404 message may also occur if a URL is typed incorrectly or if your site’s server is having issues.
It is important to remember that a 404 Error message does serve a practical purpose: it lets a visitor to your site know that they have come to a page with no content and directs them somewhere else. It may prompt them to visit another page on your site or check that they entered the link correctly. Remember that this can be frustrating for the customer—they are looking for something specific and cannot find it. To help improve customer satisfaction, your 404 Message should seek to help remedy this. However, a “fun” error message that still conveys the important information can also help ease some of the customer’s frustration by lightening the mood.
Even if you do decide to redesign your 404 message, your first priority should be minimizing the likelihood of your customers stumbling across a page that no longer exists. A website full of links that lead nowhere does not establish credibility for your business. A regular website audit can help you remove dead-end links from your site.
5 companies with the most memorable 404 message
TripAdvisor helps customers book every aspect of their vacations, from transportation and lodging to dining and other activities once they reach their destination. Running into an error message while trying to book a vacation is frustrating, but not nearly as frustrating as having an airline lose your luggage. TripAdvisor’s 404: Page Not Found message gives readers a chuckle, keeps things in perspective, and redirects users to helpful links where they can keep booking their trips.
It’s good to take a break from browsing the web every once in a while, even if it’s only for a minute. Canva’s 404 Error message gives you the opportunity to do just that with a slide puzzle of another user’s design. If you’re feeling stressed about not being able to find what you’re looking for, this gives you a chance to decompress for a moment before returning to Canva’s homepage to try again.
Marie Kondo became hugely popular a few years ago with her Netflix show about decluttering and organizing your life. Her catchphrase about keeping things that “spark joy” and saying goodbye to things that “do not spark joy” became an internet meme. As with her physical space, Marie Kondo periodically tidies up her website and removes pages that no longer serve a purpose. The KonMari error page employs the brand’s unique voice to redirect you in your browsing.
Speaking of websites that keep their branding consistent, even on their error pages, our next pick is iMDb. If you try to navigate to a page that doesn’t exist on the website, you’ll receive a 404 message coupled with a famous movie quote. Or, at least, a variation of a famous movie quote that has been altered to make it about a missing webpage. Here’s the cool thing: there are different versions of the page, and you can get different messages each time you end up on the error page. You can even refresh your page to cycle through them.
Bit.ly’s error page is fairly simple compared to the other options we’ve put on this list. It features a simple illustration of a woman sitting in the Yogic lotus pose, reminding the user to take a deep breath even in the face of a frustrating situation. What makes this page stand out is how informative it is. It explains why the user has encountered an error message and provides options for fixing the situation, including checking the spelling and capitalization of the link they entered.
What makes an error page stand out?
Most of us encounter an error page and either go back to the page we were sent from or navigate to the site’s home page without a second thought. So, what exactly makes one site’s error page more memorable than another?
Bumping into an error message is frustrating. If it happens too many times, users might become fed up with your website and leave. A little bit of humor and empathy can go a long way to ease any tension your visitors might be feeling. TripAdvisor and iMDb are excellent examples of relatable error messages. Well-known movie quotes and the universal dread of lost luggage create a point of identification between your brand and your customers.
It’s consistent with your branding
Establishing a distinct brand and sticking to it helps establish trust between you and your customers. Every page of your website should follow your branding guidelines—from color and typography to voice—including your error message. KonMari does a really good job of incorporating its brand voice into its error message.
Like the Canva puzzle error message page, providing a brief distraction to your visitor can help them forget that they are frustrated by not finding what they are looking for you. A quick game, puzzle, or just something they can manipulate with their cursor gives them a chance to decompress before continuing.
The most important task your error message has is to get your customers back on track to finding what they are looking for and booking a service or purchasing a product. Let them know why they are receiving the error message and give them options for resolving the situation. This might include checking the spelling of their URL or offering several links to other pages on your website. The Bit.ly and TripAdvisor error messages do this particularly well.
Time to give your page an upgrade? Contact us!
Your website is the first impression most customers get of your business. A website that looks great and showcases your branding from the home page to an error message converts traffic to high-quality leads is essential for helping your business grow.
At BHirst media, we’re experts at building easy-to-navigate websites that look great on any device. If your error message or site is overdue for a facelift, contact us today!